SUCCESSFUL DAN SEEKS FIRST GRADE I VICTORY IN STEPHEN FOSTER
Mort Fink’s homebred Successful Dan is a four-time graded stakes winner and trainer Charlie LoPresti hopes he will record his first Grade I triumph in Saturday’s $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi at Churchill Downs.
“That would be the ultimate,” LoPresti said. “I’d like to see him get a Grade I.”
It will be the first start in a Grade I for Successful Dan since the 2010 Clark Handicap when he crossed the line first, but was disqualified and placed third by Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Stewards for interfering with Redding Colliery entering the stretch.
Successful Dan, older brother of 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan, did not race in 2011 due to a suspensory injury and he incurred similar injuries in 2009 after winning the Northern Dancer (GIII) at Churchill Downs and in 2012 following a runner-up effort to Fort Larned in the Cornhusker Handicap (GIII) last June.
“It’s been frustrating,” LoPresti said. “That’s the best way to put it. Had he not been plagued with the injuries he’s been plagued with, you probably would have seen a potential Horse of the Year in him at some point.”
In his first start since the Cornhusker, Successful Dan won the Ben Ali (GIII) on the Polytrack at Keeneland and LoPresti said the 7-year-old gelded son of Successful Appeal needed the race.
“I think there’s no doubt,” LoPresti said. “He’d been off for a while. Historically, his second race (off a layoff) has been even better. He’s 110-percent right now. I couldn’t have him any better.”
LoPresti said Successful Dan will travel to Churchill Downs from his barn at Keeneland on Saturday morning. In the Stephen Foster, he will face a competitive group of older horses, including Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) winner Fort Larned, defending Stephen Foster champ Ron the Greek and Take Charge Indy, six-length winner of the Alysheba (GII).
“I think Fort Larned has to be respected an awful lot,” LoPresti said. “He’s the Breeders’ Cup Classic winner. The other horse I’d worry about is Ron the Greek, who beat Wise Dan by a head last year. Those are the two I fear the most.”
The Foster is one of five graded stakes races Saturday and will be run in prime time under the lights on the first of three Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka programs. The first of 11 races will be 6 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Foster is scheduled as Race 8 at 9:39 p.m.
The theme for Saturday’s Downs After Dark racing and entertainment celebration is “The White Party” and on-track guests are encouraged to wear an all-white wardrobe.
MARGOLIS HOPES WINE PRINCESS TAKES ANOTHER STEP FORWARD IN FLEUR DE LIS
Wine Princess, a 4-year-old chestnut daughter of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper and 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri, won her 2013 debut by seven lengths on Opening Night at Churchill Downs and will make her second start of the year in Saturday’s $175,000-added Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII).
“We were hoping to get an easy race in her off the layoff and she won easily, which was great,” trainer Steve Margolis said. “We really like the way she’s working. (Jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan) likes what he’s feeling and I like what I’m seeing. She’s coming into it as good as we could ask.”
Becky Winemiller’s Wine Princess will face four rivals Saturday, including two-time champion Royal Delta, who won last year’s Fleur de Lis by eight lengths.
“We’re getting 10 pounds from her, which is definitely a help,” Margolis said. “Royal Delta is a proven champion and a serious racehorse, but we’ve got quality too and we’re undefeated on the dirt here. We’re looking forward to the challenge and feel our horse deserves a shot.”
Wine Princess has won four of her seven starts and has earnings of $213,558. Her career is highlighted by a win in last year’s Monmouth Oaks (GIII) and a runner-up effort to Grace Hall in the Indiana Oaks (GII).
“When you have that kind of pedigree, in the back of your mind, you always hope they can live up to it,” Margolis said. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but she’s a Grade III winner and Grade II placed and hopefully she can move forward.”
DOWN THE STRETCH
Champion Royal Delta and defending Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) winner Ron the Greek galloped at Churchill Downs on Wednesday morning after visiting the paddock under Rudolph Brisset. Royal Delta was on the track at 6 a.m. and Ron the Greek trained at 6:30 a.m.
“They both went over the track great and seem to be doing very well,” said Kenny McCarthy, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. …
Owner-trainer Mark Powell and So Big is Better arrived at Churchill Downs from Salt Lake City on Sunday for the $100,000-added President of United Arab Emirates Cup for Arabian 4-year-olds and up on Saturday at Churchill Downs. It will be just the second race for the breed beneath the Twin Spires.
So Big is Better is a 9-year-old son of Burning Sand and has won 20 of his 46 starts with earnings of $215,490. In his most recent start, he won an allowance at Arapahoe by six lengths under Kelsi Purcell, who will have the call Saturday.
It is the first visit to Churchill Downs for Powell, who is looking forward to Saturday’s race.
“It’s awesome,” Powell said. “It’s a dream. I’ve seen the races on TV and the Kentucky Derby. Now to be here, it’s just – wow.”
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Thursday, June 13
- 9 races from 12:45-4:59 p.m. EDT (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Feature (Race 7 at 3:57 p.m.): $57,000 alw opt clm, f & m, 6 F
Friday, June 14
- 11 races from 2:45-7:54 p.m. (Gates 1:30 p.m.)
- Feature: $57,000 alw opt clm, 3 & up, 6 ½ F
- City’s Best Happy Hour! Drink specials ($2 Budweiser/Bud Light; $3 Stella Artois; $4 14 Hands Blackberry Sangria), food trucks & live music (The Juice Box Heroes) in The Plaza from 4-7 p.m.
Saturday, June 15 – Downs After Dark
- 11 races from 6-11:10 p.m. (Gates: 4 p.m.)
- Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka
- Theme: The White Party. Guests are encouraged to “dress to impress” and wear an all-white wardrobe. There’ll be a contest for best dressed female, male, couple and group.
- Feature (Race 8 at 9:30 p.m.): $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) – a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division Challenge Race, 3 & up, 1 1/8 M
- Co-Feature (Race 6 at 8:30 p.m.): $175,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII), f & m, 1 1/8 M
- Co-Feature (Race 7 at 9:05 p.m.): $100,000-added Matt Winn, 3yo, 1 1/16 M
- Co-Feature (Race 9 at 10:11 p.m.): $100,000-added Regret (GIII), 3yo f, 1 1/8 M (T)
- Co-Feature (Race 10 at 10:42 p.m.): $100,000-added President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, Arabian 4 & up, 1 1/16 M
- Entertainment on The Plaza Stage includes Pawnshop Guitar (4-8:30 p.m.) and Off the Hook (8:45 p.m. to close).
- Popular text-to-win sweepstakes “Bet or No Bet,” sponsored by Thorntons.
- Ceremony to present engraved Kentucky Derby trophies to the connections of Orb.
- Acclaimed cartoonist “PEB” will update his colorful, masterpiece murals that depict every jockey and trainer that have won the Kentucky Derby.
Sunday, June 16 – Father’s Day
- 10 races from 12:45-5:29 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Feature: $58,000 alw, 3 & up, 5 F (T)
- Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger on The Plaza Balcony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Games, crafts, entertainment & Churchill Charlie appearance. Special craft is Father’s Day cards.